PITTSBURGH — It seems fitting the way the Lightning season is going that the winning goal in Monday night's 4-3 loss to the Penguins at the Consol Energy Center was into an empty net.
And for sheer weirdness Tampa Bay got a goal off the face of forward Tom Pyatt.
But given the way things are going it also seemed appropriate that two bad turnovers — both by defenseman Eric Brewer, leading to goals by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby — would lead to the team's undoing.
"We're playing hard, we're playing good and we sabotage ourselves with two turnovers," coach Guy Boucher said. "There's no excuse. They're easy plays. Make the easy play and that's it."
Instead, Tampa Bay (9-11-1) turned what had been a terrific effort against the No. 2 team in the East into its fifth straight loss and sixth in its past seven games.
It also lost goaltender Mathieu Garon early in the second period to a lower body injury that seemed to happen as he twisted himself to get in position to stop a Malkin shot.
"I don't think anything needs to change," center Steven Stamkos said, addressing what he acknowledged will be the inevitable calls for coaching and personnel changes.
"We have to execute. That's the easy way out when people start talking like that. We're not thinking that. The coaching staff is working hard. We're in these games. We just have to find a way to win."
Stamkos did his part with two goals for a league-best 17. Pyatt's goal (on which Nate Thompson's shot deflected off a stick, ricocheted off Pyatt's face and floated over crouching goalie Marc-Andre Fleury) gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 8:01 left in a second period in which Tampa Bay pushed the play and had a 12-9 shot advantage.
But things unraveled in the third.
Brewer's giveaway to Malkin ended with Malkin going backhand to forehand at the top of the crease and slicing right-to-left between defenseman Matt Carle and a diving Brewer.
Lindback didn't have a chance and the score was 2-2 at 5:38.
"A great, unbelievable power move," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
"An unbelievable play," Boucher said. "But we gave it to him. We put the gun to our heads. It's unacceptable."
"A bad play by me," he said.
His second giveaway led to Crosby's goal that made it 3-2 at 7:29.
James Neal's empty-net goal with 51.5 seconds left made it 4-2. That turned out to be important as Stamkos' goal with eight seconds left made it 4-3.
"We have to salvage a win somehow," Stamkos said of tonight's game at New Jersey that wraps up a four-game road trip. "We have to get at least a point."
First Period—1, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 12 (Crosby), 4:13. Penalties—Labrie, TB, major (fighting), 4:02; Engelland, Pit, major (fighting), 4:02; Aulie, TB (interference), 13:57; St. Louis, TB (cross-checking), 16:18; Engelland, Pit (cross-checking), 16:18.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 16 (Hedman, St. Louis), 2:39. 3, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 5 (Thompson, Palat), 11:59. Penalties—Hedman, TB (tripping), :15; Brewer, TB (hooking), 13:47.
Third Period—4, Pittsburgh, Malkin 5, 5:38. 5, Pittsburgh, Crosby 11 (Letang), 7:29. 6, Pittsburgh, Neal 14 (Malkin, Letang), 19:08 (en). 7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 17 (Lecavalier, St. Louis), 19:52. Penalties—Niskanen, Pit (interference), 3:00. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 7-12-9—28. Pittsburgh 11-9-12—32. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 1; Pittsburgh 0 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Garon (13 shots-12 saves), Lindback 7-5-1 (2:19 second, 18-16). Pittsburgh, Fleury 11-5-0 (28-25). A—18,656 (18,387). T—2:36. Referees—Francis Charron, Stephen Walkom. Linesmen—Derek Nansen, Derek Amell.